U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Kenya Sunday with plans to advise government leaders about their continued fight with al-Shabab, and to speak with community leaders about human rights issues, according to a Reuters report.
“The Garissa attack starkly illustrated the extent to which al-Shabab can have an impact on innocent civilians,” a U.S. official told Agence France-Presse. “And so we will be looking at additional ways that we may be able to support the Kenyan efforts to fight al-Shabab.”
Kerry's visit comes just weeks after al-Shabab, known to be associated with al Qaeda, killed 150 in a massacre at Garissa University College, located just 120 miles from the Somali border. It was one of many in a string of deadly attacks by the group, including an attack at Nairobi’s Westgate mall in 2013 that killed 67 people. The incident has sparked a series of government responses including plans to build a wall between the two countries, a move that drew criticism from both Kenyans and Somalis.
U.S. officials told reporters that during his visit, Kerry hopes to emphasize that there are other ways to fight terrorism. “Our major message is that fighting terrorism requires a multi-faceted approach,” an official told Reuters.
Kerry is planning to meet with leaders from Kenya’s civil society and the private sector to work on comprehensive solutions, and discuss other issues such as refugees, trade and human rights, according to local media reports.
He will also be meeting with Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta to discuss security concerns in nearby countries such as Burundi and South Sudan, and human rights issues within Kenya. His trip comes a few months before U.S. President Barack Obama’s planned visit later in July.
The visit is the second on a three-part journey for Kerry that began in Sri Lanka. Kerry’s visit to Kenya will last from Sunday to Tuesday, when he will depart for Djibouti, which has also contributed resources to fight al-Shabab. There he will meet with leaders to discuss cooperation efforts and support evacuation efforts from Yemen, according to a State Department announcement. It will be the first time a sitting Secretary of State will visit the country, where many U.S. military forces are based.